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tv   Washington Week With Gwen Ifill  PBS  March 26, 2016 1:30am-2:01am PDT

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gwen: from brussels to havana to the 2016 campaign trail. power, history, and political feuding pretty much sums up the week tonight on "washington week." >> a feeling of war. >> we all know that we're not safe anywhere. t can happen anywhere at any moment. gwen: more blood shed. more terror. more worry about whether isis can be stopped. >> the momentum is in our favor but by no means would i say woor' about to break the back of isil or that the fight is over. gwen: the brussels attacks jolt the world's attention back to a growing threat. airforce one touches down in cuba bringing an american
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president to the island nation for the first time in 88 years. >> i have come here to bury the last remnant of the cold war in the americas. [applause] >> i have come here to extend the hand of friendship to the cuban people. gwen: but as this immediately iconic picture showed, the hand f friendship only goes so far. at home campaign 2016 devolves into a bitter fight between gop front-runner donald trump and ted cruz. >> if your car is broken down do you want to bring a guy over to stand in the driveway and yell and scream and curse at your car? or do you actually want someone to lift the hood and fix the durning thing? gwen: while lagging john kasich soldiers on. >> let me tell you. i drop out donald trump is absolutely going to be the nominee. gwen: covering the week mark mazzetti national security correspondent for the "new york times." nancy youssef, senior national
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security correspondent for "the daily beast." tom gjelten, religion correspondent for npr. and robert kosta, national political reporter for "the ashington post." >> award winning reporting and analysis, covering history as it happens. live from our nation's capital. this is "washington week" with gwen eiffel. corporate funding for "washington week" is provided by - the cause is retirement and today thousands of people came to race for retirement and pledged to save an additional 1% of their income. if we all do that we can all win.
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>> additional corporate funding for "washington week" is provided by -- once again, live from washington, moderator gwen ifill. gwen: good evening. the random nature of terror attacks makes them all the more terrifying. so it was this week in brussels where an apparent isis cell went after the kind of soft targets, the airport, the subway, that ordinary citizens frequent. dozens died and hundreds more were injured.
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world leaders were left struggling once again with questions about how to cut off the roots and the branches of isis. thveragets is difficult work. it's not because we don't have the best and the brightest working on it. it's not because we are not taking the threat seriously. it is because it's challenging to find, identify, very small groups of people who are willing to die themselves and can walk into a crowd and detonate a bomb. gwen: that takes intelligence and military might. what happens when terrorists take advantage of porous bored torse make europe their prime target? >> you get paris in november and you get brussels this week. and in many ways the two attacks are very connected and one is an extension of the other. a number of problematic things are going on in europe. you have an influx of people coming in and no clear sense of who is coming in but also around
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europe there is very little monitoring about who is going across porous borders as you said and intelligence sources that are really overwhelmed. gwen: and fractured. >> and fractured. so what investigators have found after the paris attacks in november was that isis had established a pretty big infrastructure in the city and also in europe and to carry out these kinds of attacks. what we found this week was that a lot of the attackers, the people involved in the brussels attack, were the same people who carried out paris. so, really, it's two attacks that are very, very connected. gwen: the question immediately turns to so what do you do about it? here in the united states today at the pentagon they actually said they were making some progress against isis. >> that's right. they announced they had killed the minister of finance, the isis minister of finance, and this was a significant deal
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because of one of the ways that isis is able to expand its grip outside of the islamic state territories is through financing european nationals who look to launch attacks. it was an interesting attack as well because it's the latest in a string of attacks the united stat has been able to conduct against isis finances starting with the raid in may of last year and followed by the strike on three buildings that held upwards of $750 million for isis. and so we are starting to see increased success going after big name members of the islamic state. gwen: the administration has come under some criticism for not having a strategy, not just a global strategy but a strategy to have boots on the ground so to speak. but is this a geographic fight anymore? or is this more ideological? because they seem to have tentacles everywhere. >> i was just going to say the
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challenge is on one hand you have the islamic state losing territory in iraq and syria and at the same time has been able to do increasingly sophisticated attacks in europe. so it really raises the question, does isis need territory to pose a threat to europe? i think the events of this week have really raised that question. it seems that essentially it's a little bit of both. that the territory for -- allows them to expand their grip on europe and what i think we're really seeing is that even when isis is -- endures strikes in its territory, it has attacks in the works in the upwards of a year or two years. they can be weaker now in iraq and syria and still be effective at least in the short term in europe. >> i think we'll see this sort of punch and counter punch aspect of this, of them attacking in the west in places where they can like in western europe, the united states and coalition forces continuing to hit them in syria, and there was
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a debate before paris, the month before paris, was isis like al qaeda? were they going to do the types of attacks? well, the debate, whether they were or not they are now. in the sense of the type of attacks they'll carry out. >> now, almost all of the attackers in paris were killed. a bunch of the attackers in this case were killed including the guy allegedly who made the bombs. how much of the network, you know, is still out there? because a lot of guys have been arrested. a lot of guys have been killed. what's left there? do we know? -- i think nobody thinks they've wrapped this whole thing up. they are clearly still looking for others. they don't know what they don't know in the sense of the extent of the network. this may just be one cell that is focused on france and belgium. there may be other cells. again, there was real surprise after paris once they dug into the attack just how extensive
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the support network was. and french officials i've spoken to talk about the number of foreign fighters who are able to go back and forth to syria and, so, there is real fear that this is just something we're going to see semiregularly. >> why was brussels a target? not just in terms of the vulnerability of the city in terms of its intelligence but was there any symbolism to picking brussels? >> well, i think one of the areas which was particularly susceptible is that it has a migrant community that feels isolated from the rest of the country. you have third generation moroccans for example who still identify themselves as moroccan bell jums. they don't feel belgian, they don't feel part of the community. you've had this going on for quite a period of time so it has made brussels and belgium at large suss set ibble to a rad -- susceptible to a radical islamic network coming into the country. that is a challenge belgium in particular had in terms of
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combating the islamic state threat. you can't have people living in a country and not feeling part of it. they are less likely to go to the authorities when they see something suspicious and you have now a huge enclave where there can be plots and where people can de. the apartments for example in which the suspects were found last week, salah abdeslam, and the suspects in this attack were in neighborhoods and able to hide for several months. >> one of the most disturbing features of this whole investigation is that there doesn't seem to have been that much collaboration between the authorities. you mentioned the authorities in brussels and in belgium and anybody -- anyplace else in the world. the president of turkey said, hey, i want these guys. he deported them to the netherlands. but i warned everyone of these guys being bad guys. turns out maybe some of them were on the u.s. no fly list. why is it that this wasn't -- not why didn't they see it coming but why wasn't it better
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coordinated? >> it's a mess right now actually in terms of the intelligence sharing, in terms of the structure of the spy services around europe. i mean, we learned the hard way 15 years ago how our intelligence services didn't talk to each other. the f.b.i. and c.i.a. weren't talking to each other. that was one of the reasons why the september 11 attacks happened. there's ban lot of progress in the u.s. since then. europe is in that sort of state before the september 11 attacks where they don't talk to each other. there's a lot of historic rivalries. they've fought wars against each other. and even not only country to country but within countries -- france, certain services won't talk to each other. this is a real problem. >> nancy, you raise an interesting question about whether the losses in syria are all that significant. but isn't it true that one of the recruiting pitches of isis has been this caliphate? they control territory, they have this mini state. how are those two considerations
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balanced? >> on one hand that state has been appealing but on the other hand there is the inspiration of raging war on behalf of islam throughout the world. and so it's not clear that the state is required so much as the idea that islam is under attack and it is your job as a disaffected muslim in europe to fight back. but it's an interesting dilemma because the united states is saying, we're having an effect. isis is weaker. and yet the attacks get more sophisticated. not only that, you've seen isis that is able to respond within days to what seemed to be major etbacks for the group. there was an arrest four days before belgium and we've seen this pattern where isis is able to respond very quickly to setbacks. they are able to control the narrative and say that what seems like a setback to you is us strategically and smartly evolving and adapting. >> they may even have been able to after the arrest last friday,
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they may have thought we need to accelerate the attacks. they just moved quickly and were able to and have had successful bomb makers carry outat tack, send out a video the next day, proclaim great victory. it is a fairly agile organization. >> briefly, san bernadino, which was isis inspired but not necessarily isis directed, should we be domestically more worried about that type of attack than the kinds of net works we're seeing in europe? >> the challenge is it's both in a way. there is not the kind of network in the united states that there is in europe. it is clear this is well established in europe. the idea that you don't know how much of it is inspired and how much is being funded by isis i think makes it very hard to make any safe predictions about what will motivate the next attack. >> okay. thank you both. on to cuba where the president crossed an historic item off his bucket list by navigating a delicate tight rope with a communist nation that he said represents a new beginning. >> there is no secret that our
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governments disagree on many of these issues. i've had frank conversations with president castro. but here's what the cuban people need to understand. welcome this open debate and dialogue. it's good. it's healthy. i'm not afraid of it. >> there were predictable criticisms. house speaker paul ryan said the trip "epitomizes a dictatorship." but did the president's careful words resonate in havana, tom? >> i can tell you the vast majority of the cuban people have been waiting for this moment for years and years and the people we have there say the cubans were glued to their television sets, they were cheering him. i mean, this is just stunning. this is something that's been unimagineable for many years. think on the other hand leadership had to be a little disoriented by this experience. the cuban regime has had this need to have the united states as its enemy. you had reuel sitting up there
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watching this and politely clapping but i was interested in the official commentary afterwards and the official government press. it was very negative. you had commentators saying the enemy is our enemy. the past cannot be forgotten. so, clearly, you know, there is some discomfort there. to me this was like the foreign policy equivalent of pulling out of vietnam. you fight a war for 50 years and at some point you just say we lost. it didn't work. gwen: also the people who run the country, the reuel castros of the world and his lieutenants, and the people of cuba, many of whom are acro-cuban and took a look at president obama and said, yeah. i get this. >> that is about two-thirds of the population of cuba at this point, so many of the cuban exiles are white. about two-thirds of the remaining population is either afro-cuban or partly after roe-cuban. not only that you have this guy who comes in and says none of this stuff, i wasn't even around
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when this stuff happened. gwen: he was born the year of the bay of pigs. >> so he has his youth and afro-cuban background. this is something that definitely resonates with the cuban people. >> that's interesting. the dynamic you talked about in terms of how people are receiving his visit. what does it mean for things like trade, going forward? >> well, here's the truth. after december, 2014, when this announcement of an opening was made, the arrest of political dissidents has gone up. it is now at a five-year high. it's pretty clear this is a government that is not anxious to lose control, and there is some worry, some concern too much of this whole thing will actually do that. we have had hundreds of delegations going to cuba in the hopes of ginning up business. the number that have actually been able to negotiate deals is very small. so i think there is a clear reluctance on the part of the cuban government to really let
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this play out in the fullest extent possible. there's one change that the administration made just last week that could be hugely important. they decided to allow individual americans to go to cuba on their own not as part of a tour. and that really is a blow to the cuban government because the cuban government has been making money by providing tour guides, bus transportation, making them stay in hotels. now all of a sudden, you know, individual americans can go and stay in air places, they don't have to hire a tour guide. that is a kind of tourism out of the government's control and could be significant. >> tom, you studied cuba really closely for a number of years and you talk about how the number of dissidents, the crackdown on dissidents is at an all-time high. is that do you think somewhat tracked to the policy change in the u.s., the upcoming trip of president obama? >> i think two things, mark. i think on the one hand the government is very nervous about what this might mean and how it
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might erode their control. the other thing is that i think, frankly, it sort of is inspired cubans to be sort of more activists. you can say that the increase in arrests is a reflection of the increased activism. more people are actually demonstrating, taking matters into their own hands. so that could be an explanation as well. >> once we learned about reuel cass -- what can we learn about reuel castro from this whole experience? >> reuel castro is i would say this is not something that fidel would have been able to handle. reuel has had this reputation of being more pragmatic. the idea reuel would go with barack obama to a baseball game, and of course barack obama came under a lot of criticism for, you know, doing that, not only because it was right in the aftermath of brussels, but also because the situation really hasn't improved all that much in cuba. but it had to be also awkward for reuel. this is not something that i can imagine fidel would ever have
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done. >> watching him try to answer questions at a press con fence it was clear he had never actually been asked questions before by reporters. he clearly was rattled. we end tonight where we normally begin with the 2016 campaign. donald trump came to washington this week to invite people to get on his train. >> you have a lot of people out there that you think are against me and it's just politicians. they want to make a deal. they want to come in and be part of it. gwen: hillary clinton also began behaving as if she is already the nominee delivering what was billed as major foreign policy speech and taking the time to issue a pointed scolding to the gop. >> when republican candidates like ted cruz call for treating american muslims like criminals and for racially profiling predominantly muslim neighborhoods, it's wrong. it's counterproductive. it's dangerous. gwen: that looks very states
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woman like. general election behavior, why so early? >> both candidates, the leading candidates in each party, see the general election approaching fast on the horizon and they would like to pivot away from their primary battles. on the republican side you see trump. he's almost tired of this battle with senator cruz. he believes he, if he doesn't reach the threshold ahead of the convention he'll be close to it and he relishes the idea of a fight with secretary clinton. gwen: but you say he's tired. he doesn't sound tired even if he is just tweeting from the sidelines. >> politically tired. ready to move on. trump is at such an interesting moment. i tracked him as he was through washington, d.c. this past week. he is someone who doesn't have a real core within the republican party. he doesn't have a constituency. he's just trying to build relationships as an outsider coming in and to see him with newt gingrich and others and senator sessions at jones day law firm near the capitol having a lunch of shrimp sandwiches and trying to act presidential, it
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was a turning point for him. it's been difficult for trump because every time he takes a few steps forward in helping the establishment warm to him, he seems to always get drawn back into a skirmish. gwen: well, that's his plan, isn't it? doesn't he start the skirmishes most of the time? >> he enjoys the skirmishes and he believes conflict can drive a candidacy. this is not a presidential candidate who is motivated or driven by ads or who has some kind of message beyond make america great again, is not running on a policy agenda. it's personality, it's conflict, it's giving people something that is politically incorrect in an age where they feel they can't say what they want to say. >> so any of the seeds he planted this week during this trip to washington, did he make headway? did it look like it was anything that was sort of building long-term relationships? or does it not matter? >> i think he's made a few inroads on the right. i mean, one of the key obstacles for trump right now is among the conservatives who have this never trump movement. and many of those people are
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supporting senator cruz. he met with senator sessions and others close to the populace right wing of the republican party and said i'm with you on immigration. i have a conservative view on foreign policy to an extent that he wants to combat isis though he is not an interventionist, not a hawk. and so we're seeing trump trying to just build bridges. it's not an easy process. >> but you've got these endorsements like jeb bush and lindsey graham going to cruz. what's the significance of that? do they really think cruz can catch trump or is there some other -- gwen: there is a plan to catch trump. >> cruz's plan is to have delegates accumulate. you see cruz right now using his organization to his strength. he had a big win in utah. trump won arizona. and when you saw in utah what you're seeing with cruz in places like louisiana and where he goes to state conventions, events happening after the primary or the caucus, and then during that event he is able to pick up delegates or put people on the rules committee for the convention. it is still very difficult to see how cruz gets to 1237 the
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number you need to win the nomination but if he can prevent trump from getting close enough his people feel, cruz's people, that he can make a case at the convention. >> giving all those dynamics where are we on the contested convention talk we hear about? >> it seems more and more likely and house speaker paul ryan is going to be moderating, chairing the convention. he said it's very much a possibility. you see trump, himself, has brought in some of ben carson's former advisers to try to help him have a convention strategy. it's all going to be about a second ballot when delegates become unbound. if no one reaches the threshold that's what happens. gwen: i don't want to end without mentioning that today in portland, oregon there were thousands of people in an arena for bernie sanders. in washington state this weekend he is likely to have another good time. he's not going anywhere either. >> not at all. i'm curious about your thoughts on this. you look at this map of april, a lot of rust belt states, states in the upper west and places where senator sanders is strong and his campaign believes his is
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not a fading campaign. as strong as secretary clinton is, he is someone who is winning over young people and he's shown the ability to win a state like michigan, a place that has a demolished industrial base. i think you'll see sanders continue to pick up delegates in april and if not contest he is going to be very competitive. >> he'll certainly take his message all the way to the convention. >> it's hard to see why sanders gets out. >> exactly. okay. well, thank you all very much. this has been a fascinating week. we didn't even talk about the spat involving the wives. we can be the only people who don't. you can read about it someplace else. we are done here. we'll keep this conversation going online. who knows? maybe that's where we'll talk about it? that's on the "washington week" webcast extra where we'll also tell you what the speaker of the house had to say about this fractious campaign year. watch the webcast later tonight and all week long at week. keep up with daily developments with me and judy woodruff over
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at the pbs newshour and we will see you here next week on "washington week." happy easter. good night. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] corporate funding for "washington week" is provided by -- >> we're committed to strong. we're committed to sure. we're committed to smart and light. secure and bold. in a world of enduring needs the men and women of boeing are proud to build and deliver critical capabilities for those who serve to protect our nation nd its allies. and that's an enduring commitment. >> thousands of people came out today to run the race for retirement. so we asked them, are you completely prepared for retirement? okay. mostly prepared? could you say 1% more of your
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hello and welcome to kqed newsroom. i'm thuy vu. coming up on our program, the fierce election battle ahead and california's primary. length lating expiration labels to cut down on food waste. remember the fonz? henry weerng letter, best-selling author. history was made when president obama traveled to cuba, the first trip by a u.s. sitting president in almost 90 years. mr. obama met with president raul castro and took in a baseball game. it was clear that deep disagreements about human rights issues remain. >> i believe citizens should be fro


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